Hunter makes permanent move to right field

Hunter makes permanent move to right field

BALTIMORE -- Torii Hunter has been one of the best outfielders in the Major Leagues since becoming a regular with the Twins in 1999. He's won nine consecutive Gold Glove Awards in center field, but he moved to right field as the Angels outfield had a whole different look in Baltimore's 6-3 victory Tuesday night.

Manager Mike Scioscia said before the game that rookie Peter Bourjos will be the center fielder from now on with Hunter moving to right and Bobby Abreu shifting to left. Hunter had played 1,396 games in center since last starting at a different outfield position in 1999, and had just two balls hit to him in his first game in right.

But Hunter threw out Matt Wieters at home in the eighth inning after Cesar Izturis singled and said this was the first step in getting used to a new position.

"It was different, but I was still in the game in the outfield," Hunter said. "It wasn't so bad, pretty good today. It was a shorter throw. It was different [than] playing in center field."

Scioscia confirmed before the game that this is not a temporary move.

"Peter's going to play center field; you're not going to see Torii flip-flopping back and forth on a given day," said Scioscia before the series opener with the Orioles. "The situation, the way it presented itself right now, is a great time to do it. We definitely need some range in the outfield and outfield presence, and Peter can bring that. This isn't about what Torii was or wasn't doing in center field."

Bourjos went 0-for-3 in his Major League debut and showed his speed and range in the two catches he made.

Hunter, who turned 35 last month, said he understood the move and will support anything that makes the Angels better.

"Sometimes you've got to slap pride in the face," Hunter said. "All I care about is winning, I need a ring. I've been to the playoffs seven times and haven't won anything. I haven't been to the World Series yet, not even to lose. If this makes the team better, I'm going to do it."

Hunter's been known for his defensive skills in center field since he came up. He's got great range, speed and can handle a glove better than most outfielders. Scioscia said they won't move Hunter back and forth to left and right field -- the veteran is going to stay in right.

Tuesday's game was the first game that Hunter has started away from center field since Oct. 3, 1999, when he started in left with Minnesota.

Hunter batted fourth in the lineup and entered the game with 16 homers and 64 RBIs.

The 23-year old Bourjos found out about his callup from Triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday and arrived in Baltimore from Portland on Monday afternoon, getting some time to relax and settle in.

He was a 10th-round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft and is now in his fifth season of professional baseball.

"I'm excited to get out after all this time," Bourjos said. "I don't know if it's sunk in yet, but it will soon. I can't wait to get going, and I'm glad I'm finally here."

But Scioscia made it clear a few times that this move was just about trying to make the overall outfield better and adding more depth -- and not about anything Hunter can't do.

"Hopefully, by getting some added range out there [is] something that will be a positive," Scioscia said. "I just think it will take a little pressure off of Torii from having to go line-to-line as much or gap-to-gap."

Hunter said afterward that, like anything else, it's just a matter of time before he gets used to everything. He's played there before, and now Hunter's a right fielder again.

"I'm a work in progress," Hunter said. "[It will take] no time. Just go out there and play, just play the game. I've been out there before and kind of remember it 12 years ago. I know I've still got work to be done."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.